In fifth grade, Matthew Newkirk participated in a class exchange program with a school in Germany. Spending a few days in Germany ignited a lifelong interest in the German language. Now Newkirk, a recent UAA graduate majoring in global logistics and supply chain management with a minor in German, is heading back to Germany again. But this time he is going as a CBYX Congress-Bundestag scholar.
Chair of the Department of Languages, Professor Natasa Masanovic-Courtney approached Newkirk about the applying for the scholarship. Masanovic-Courtney said the program has several different components.
“This scholarship has three phases: first, students attend a language school, then take courses at the university, and finally do an internship in their discipline,” Masanovic-Courtney said. “All is covered by this German-American Partnership. It is a tremendous opportunity for the recipients.”
Newkirk said the last five months of his year in Germany will be spent interning in a logistics field. As a two year member and former president of the Global Logistics Association, Newkirk has been able to meet experts in his field as well as organize club field trips.
“For the first two years I wasn’t a logistics student, and I didn’t know there was a logistics club, and then I go and be a member for a year and the president afterwards,” Newkirk said. “I guess [my biggest accomplishment was] taking responsibility for one of the UAA clubs and coordinating various activities and being able to successfully pull them off.”
Darren Prokop is a professor of logistics and he advises the Global Logistics Association. In the time he’s known Newkirk, Prokop said he’s come to realize that Newkirk doesn’t speak often but that he always has something important to say.
“[He’s] attentive and inquisitive, and showed evidence that he thought before he spoke… He was a person that struck me as a person who pondered something before he said it, but he was still talkative in class so that’s a good combination,” Prokop said.
Terry Nelson, associate professor of leadership, had Newkirk in class in the fall and she noticed that he was the kind of student who others would listen to when he spoke.
“He sits back and he listens and he starts processing, and when he makes a statement, it’s profound and we all listen because we know he’s not a person who talks a lot,” Nelson said.
Newkirk is an Eagle Scout and has been a member of the German culture club, Kaffeeklatsch, for the past three years. In his academic tenure at UAA, Newkirk has been on the Dean’s list for four semesters and the Chancellor’s list for four as well. Newkirk says he’s been fortunate to have the motivation and time to focus on school, and he advises students to think ahead when applying for prestigious scholarships.
“Be willing to step out of your comfort zone because this is definitely out of my comfort zone, going to a different country, different culture, not what I’m used to for a whole year,” Newkirk said. “Be willing to do something a little different, but also look at your opportunities a good deal ahead of time. Maybe not as a freshman but even starting to look maybe around your junior year to see what opportunities there are available.”
After his year abroad, Newkirk hopes to come back to Alaska and possibly get a job with the Alaska Railroad, where he has worked for the last four and a half summers including a summer as an onboard supervisor.